An Invitation to Share Life Together

My pastor is doing a series on community right now. Community is something that I have always found elusive in the traditional church setting. You see the same people every week, sometimes multiple times a week. Yet there is often no real connection outside of the church walls.

I love hard and I like to build deep relationships. I’d rather have a few friends that know me intimately than have many friends with shallow relationships. It also takes me a while to feel comfortable enough with a person to want to go deeper than surface level.

As a believer I know that sharing your life with others is crucial to a healthy Christian lifestyle. I remember quoting Psalm 133:1 at the opening of Sunday School each week, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Our small group kick off is next week and I am looking forward to participating in a place where life is shared together.

Here are 10 reasons why I am looking forward to the start of our new small group:

  1. I need to be around other solid believers who are actively pursuing Christ.
  2. I like sharing food and we get to eat at small group.
  3. Small group heightens accountability to your brothers/sisters in Christ.
  4. I will feel more connected to members of a large-ish congregation.
  5. I think it will feel like the early church in Acts 2 where members were together with all things in common and broke bread in their homes.
  6. We get to eat.
  7. The thirty-somethings (and twenty-somethings) are largely underrepresented in churches so it will be nice to get to know others in my age group who are serious about loving God and loving others.
  8. I will grow in my faith.
  9. There will be more opportunities for me to serve and help others because I will become more aware of what people’s needs are.
  10. There will be food.

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Uninvited

I like quiet time. I enjoy solitude and peace. I want time to myself to ponder the great mysteries in life. I want personal time to read, study, and do more thinking. I like alone time so I can enjoy looking at all of my books and Pins. I want to pick a topic of interest and link hop on Wikipedia until I am a self-proclaimed expert.

Yet amid all of my desired alone time, sometimes I feel lonely. I may approach group plans with apprehension but at the end of the day, I am glad that I have been included. Even in those times when my introversion makes me prefer a night of reading.

Something has happened to me since becoming a mother. I have stopped waiting on an invitation. Which is funny because I had more freedom before having a child. I can only say that after seeing the fragility of life I am acutely aware that I only have one life to live. It is mine to choose how I spend my time. It was this thinking that made my hop on a plane alone, with an infant, to visit The National Museum of African American History and Culture in DC last year. Best experience EVER.

Sometimes though, I’ll admit, I still feel the sting of rejection when I am excluded from the inner circle for [insert travel plans, concert, day trip, etc.]. But then I remember, I don’t need an invitation to live my life. And neither do you.

Now or never.

#TheLast100Days

 

The Last 100 Days

At the beginning of every year I hear the naysayers quip, “Why make resolutions? You won’t keep them.”  I optimistically make my list of resolutions and goals anyway. I see the posts on social media from the regular gym members complaining about the newcomers invading their space. “Don’t worry,” they say, “They’ll be gone in a couple of months or weeks.” So much for a little motivation. Maybe it is true and they will fall off the wagon but even if someone doesn’t stick with the a new workout regimen at least they had a couple of months of exercise. Something is better than nothing, right?

As the year moved along I started checking in on my own progress. I started the year with a Vision Board. I thought my goals were lofty, yet practical.

Autumn is here. Two-thirds of the year is behind me. I’ve made great strides with some of my goals and with others, I am still at the starting blocks.  I am staring at the question: So, Ms. Visionary-Goal Setter, what are you going to do now? Now is the time to put up or shut up. I want to look back on 2017 with pride, knowing that I tried.

I have heard it said that nothing beats a failure but a try. I have listened to several motivational speakers this year and one point has been consistent in each of their messages. In order to succeed you have to get familiar with failure. That is not to say that you will enjoy missing the mark. But you are not going to get anywhere being afraid of failure. Failing is inevitable. Ask the successful entrepreneurs of today and if they are honest they will share the stumbles and bumbles they had along the way. Winston Churchill said, “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”

I proclaimed that 2017 would be my year of failure. A  year to get some of the failing out of the way so I could lay the groundwork for success. I decided to get out of the way and embrace my fears. So what if I don’t know it all. I will find someone to teach me. So what if I can’t do everything, that won’t keep me from trying.

And in my search for failure I found success. I found the answers to questions I did not know I should ask. I found confidence and a resolve to do more today than I did yesterday. I found grace and the courage to give myself a break from the internal pressure and expectations to perform with perfection.

Now, as I look at my Vision for 2017, I am amazed at what I have accomplished. I may not have checked off every box on the list but the year is not over yet. I still have 100 days and I aim to finish strong like Kobe in 4th quarter.

What did you purpose in your heart to accomplish in 2017? What goals did you set? Dust off that list! It is not too late! You have 100 days.

Perhaps some of these goals resonate with you:

  • Do you desire to read through the Bible in a year? Check out this Read through the Bible in 90 days plan!
  • Do you want to lose weight? Aim to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week which is not only doable, but it is the best way to maintain weight loss. Forget those fad diets that promise quick results. You can still lose 14-28 pounds if you get started now. Not bad for the last 100 days!
  • Are you looking to improve relationships in your life? Send a card or a hand written note via snail mail to encourage someone or thank them for a job well done. How many of us actually get something other than bills in the mailbox? You just may make someone’s week and open the door for a deeper and more meaningful relationship. I bought 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life on a whim some time ago. I am convinced that an expression of gratitude is a powerful way to cultivate relationships that may be waning or in need of some old fashion TLC.
  • Have you been putting off tedious household chores or projects? Try implementing Power Hour where you focus one hour a week on a task you’ve been postponing. One hour is reasonable. You will be done before you know it and that feeling of accomplishment will spur you into action the following week. Some of my power hour tasks have been: organizing the dishes in my cabinet, sorting clothes my son can no longer fit to prepare for donation or selling, setting up a play room, and color coding and weeding out my t-shirt collection.
  • Are you ready start a business or advance in your career? Find a class and attend with an open mind! This year I have completed the Workshop in Business Opportunity Class offered by Grace Hill Women’s Business Center and the Neighborhood Leadership Academy through the University of Missouri – St. Louis. Both classes provided me with a wealth of knowledge, tools, and resources to move forward with my career aspirations. In addition, I have met like minded entrepreneurs and community leaders who have encouraged me to put my ideas into action. If these don’t fit what you are looking for try a Google search or look at your local library or community college for a list of professional development courses.

What will you accomplish in the next 100 days? Share it with me. I’d love to cheer you on. Here’s to 100 days of action!

 

#MambaOut

Viva Las Vegas

…but I missed my baby though.

I have never been away from my son for more than two sleeps. So when I decided to attend my Sorority’s National Convention in Las Vegas and stay for six days I knew it would be a challenge.

The hardest part about leaving was the prep work it required. I prepared lunches and snacks, and planned easy dinners for my husband to make in my absence. I went through two boxes of ziplock bags. I bagged snacks, diapers, outfits, towels, bibs and anything else we use regularly by day. Just so there was no confusion.

To help my husband make it though this single dad experience I lined up baby sitters during the workday and a couple of overnight stays.  So it was off to grandparent’s house for the weekend. When my son is with them it’s like “mommy/daddy who?”

I had to power through that first three days because my mom did not send any pictures! Shame on her. I decided to believe they were having so much fun living in the moment that they couldn’t take photos. Thinking this helped me make it through those 72 hours.

I’d packed a separate diaper bag for the next three days of being without mommy. My husband sent him off to my aunt’s house for an overnight stay on Monday and she kept him during the day on Tuesday as well. Thankfully, she sent me several pictures. As an added bonus she was babysitting two of my nephews and another baby so he had plenty of fun with the other children. My aunt, however, will probably need a couple of months to recover from a house full of 4 boys, including 2 toddlers and 1 infant.

Overall, I enjoyed my mommy break even if it was a work-cation more than a vacation. By the last day of the trip, I was anxious, ready to go home. So of course my flight was delayed by 3 hours.

When I arrived home at 1:15 AM I placed my baby in the bed (despite my husband’s protests). I said, “Goodnight, Joseph.” His eyelids fluttered, opened then closed, and he smiled, “Eat. Eat,” came his reply.

Black History Month Decor

February is here! I love celebrating Black history all year long but there is something special about acknowledging the work and progress of our people during the month of February. One of my goals this year has been to make the outside of my home look more appealing and inviting. So I started creating deco mesh wreaths. My Christmas wreaths certainly brought an additional flair of festivity to my home.

Why not keep the celebrations going? Here is my Black History Month wreath which I will proudly display all month long. Who am I kidding I will definitely display it throughout the year as well!

Want to add something exquisite to your door? Order one today.

For more information email me at StayGoldNaturals@gmail.com.

Visit my ETSY shop

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From Bitterness to Blessings

I began to feel sorry for myself as the never-ending housework engulfed me. I realized the only time I’d “relaxed” that day was while I ate dinner. After cooking and cleaning the kitchen I had gone back into clean up mode once the baby was asleep. With each stroke of the broom I let bitterness creep into my heart.

Swish…Why didn’t he at least offer to help me with the evening household chores?

Swish…Hmph. He could have at least taken the diaper pail bag outside to the trash can.

Swish…I wish he would have loaded these clothes in the car for me.

Swish…I do everything around here. (Not true but I sure thought it.)

Swish…I’ve been cleaning for hours! I sure wish I had some help!

Meanwhile, my husband was upstairs peacefully playing worship music on his keyboard.

Does this story sound familiar? (Luke 10:38-42)

As I lamented one of my favorite scriptures popped into my head, Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord… It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24) My sweeping began to feel a little lighter and I smiled. I started thinking about people on my prayer list and I said a quick prayer for them. Then I had the thought, “I am preparing my home for Jesus.” I got excited. Making sure the floor was clean and papers were organized now seemed like an honor. I started to think about what household tasks lay ahead for the next day and I actually felt a sense of delight as I contemplated finishing those projects as well.

Let me note that this has never happened to me. I have read stories about women who are so submitted to God that they cook and clean and feel the glory of the Lord as the lemony scent of disinfectant swirls around their home. That is not my story. But on this day I actually felt a glimmer of that contentment.

My work load did not change. My perspective changed.

A change in perspective can turn a jaded spirit into a joyful song, a mundane moment into a moment of opportunity and bitterness into blessings.

Dare I say I have had a break through?  

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A Vision for the New Year

I love New Year Resolutions. Each year I optimistically make a list of goals. My goals are usually very specific and follow the “S.M.A.R.T.” template. “I will lose 20 pounds by eating healthy and working out 5 times a week for at least 30 minutes a day by June 1, 20XX.” I am a big fan of S.M.A.R.T. Goals but this year I decided to go for a more relaxed approach.

I designed my first vision board. My board included general goals for 5 major areas of my life: Spirituality & Faith, Emotional & Mental Health, Physical Health, Relationships, and Career & Community.

Making broad goals is not something I would typically recommend but for a person like me who often struggles with flexibility and plans obsessively, a looser format can be therapeutic. Although my goals are not measurable in the traditional sense, I am taking note of my progress and have already done a mid-month evaluation. See, I told you I plan obsessively. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

2017 Vision and Resolutions

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My 2017 Vision Board

Spirituality & Faith

  • Read through the entire Bible
  • Pray
  • Memorize Scripture

Mental & Emotional Health

  • Post affirmations
  • Memorize Scripture (yes, it goes here too!)
  • Clean out the basement
  • Travel

Physical Health

  • Make and drink green smoothies
  • Exercise regularly 

Relationships

  • Listen more
  • Affirm more
  • Give more

Career & Community

  • Professional Development 
  • Create business plan
  • Save money

 

Have you ever made a vision board? Did you make any resolutions for 2017? How are they going? We are only 3 weeks into the new year. Don’t give up!